Monday, September 25, 2023

Be You

Fairly early on in my career I realized I didn’t want to fit it. Sure, I wanted to be respected for what I brought to the organizations I worked for; however, the thought of being a clone with respect to my look, speech, behavior, and perhaps most importantly, how much of ‘the real me’ that I shared, needed to be different.

As I reflect on that decision, one that I have continued to stay true to, I now recognize how great the risks have been. Risks that persist even today.

A quick example, I have a very high energy personality and approach to life in general. I get excited about things, and everyone around me can tell. It’s not something I try to do…it is just a trait that is baked into my DNA as a leader and person.

Showing that over-the-top enthusiasm however can occasionally be seen as unprofessional or an attempt at being humorous. The reality is when there is a good idea, a good result, or a great meeting that brings people together, I get pretty excited!

Beyond being super enthusiastic, I am a big proponent of sharing a lot of information with the team that works with me. After all, they are the ones that allow us in leadership to have the time to stay out of the weeds and focus on the biggest ideas we can possibly imagine (and then push ourselves to think even bigger.)

I’m also committed to being the same person at work that I am in my personal life. I love the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club, Formula 1 racing, loud heavy music and tattoos. I’m also deeply committed to my church and sit on the board of The Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.

Do you get fired up about things in your work? Would anyone notice? How much of the real you do you share? 

Thanks for being here.



Monday, September 18, 2023

The Right Throat to Choke

Accountability is a tricky concept. Leaders often use it to describe how they’re going to drive execution of various strategies to achieve a specific goal…hit a budget…launch a new idea…or simply maintain connections with key stakeholders or clients. It is often focused too heavily on team members exclusively.

So easy to describe in a sentence or two. Much more difficult to implement effectively.

The full name of this blog is NoExcusesHR - holding ourselves accountable. That last part isn’t mentioned very often, yet it is intended to be a central component of the messages I share. 

Why? Simply put, leaders hold all the power in organizations. They hire, fire, set strategy, approve budgets, establish communication norms, etc. 

Leaders decide everything.

So then, where does the real accountability lay? Surely our team members need to have clarity about their roles, responsibilities and work. However, pushing the focus on accountability nearly exclusively to those who work on our teams is, in my view, misdirected.

Real accountability starts and ends with leadership. Juggling an ever-growing list of priorities can be extremely challenging, at least it is for me, particularly when the pressure continues to grow.

Yet, that pressure creates an opportunity to expand the roles our team members play in support of that never ending list of priorities. Bonus here…in doing so we are trusting our colleagues as we give them greater responsibility and allow them to actually grow and develop versus the standard lip service many leaders give but never deliver on.

Letting go is difficult. It’s also worth it. After all, the one who really needs to be held accountable stares back at us in the mirror each day.

Thanks for being here.


Monday, September 11, 2023

Hurt, Heal, Repeat

Question for you: what is your first reaction when a leader shares they are hurting, or struggling to overcome anxiety, pressure, stress or some other challenge related to their mental health?

Do you trust they can lead effectively?

Does their credibility erode because they showed a level of vulnerability not normally discussed in the workplace?

Are you confident they’ll be strong in the difficult periods that every organization goes through?

Gut-check time. What were your answers? 

The reality for all of us is that we go through dark times. I’ve never met anyone who is always up, everything is perfect, and they live without a care in the world. Despite what ends up on our social channels (including mine), life doesn’t work that way.

Why then, would we put such unrealistic pressure on our leaders to be perfect and improving at all times when we know that is impossible?

The cycle of battling that inner voice that overwhelms…then subsides…then begins again…is a reality for me. It has been for years, yet I’ve been reticent to share any of those struggles for fear of being judged, losing opportunities to move ahead professionally, or compromising the respect of my colleagues.

At times it feels like a never ending cycle…and candidly…it is. The real triumph is when we accelerate out of the hurt phase and into some sort of healing. We find that the road ahead doesn’t always have to be a traffic jam…it can be wide open full of possibilities.

Thanks for being here.



Monday, August 28, 2023

Which Leaders Influenced You?

Leadership can at times be a heavy burden. At least it feels that way for me. The pressure to not only meet budgets, drive revenue, be creative, take risks, etc. are enough for any sane person to question their career choices.

The extra challenge of ensuring that you deliver for your employees is a whole new level of pressure. They depend on us to have a vision, drive new business opportunities, and grow the organization. They are literally counting on us for their livelihood.

That’s a lot.

When that all feels a bit too much for me I turn to those who have inspired me on my journey. Some of these leaders I’ve had close personal relationships with; others I’ve only studied and admired from afar.

Those role models are important. To assume we can simply figure everything out on our own is ludicrous, and is a sure-fire way to toss your credibility out the window.

“Beware the leader that believes he or she has all the answers”

Tell me about the leaders who influenced your development as a leader? Who were they, and what made them so important in your journey?

Perhaps most importantly, how have you tried to bring those important traits into your leadership style? Admiring other leaders is one thing, integrating their strengths into how you grow in your leadership practice is very different.

Oh, and here’s a quick peek at several of my most important role models: my Father, Reverend Gary Kuhns; The Reverend Dietrich Bonhoeffer; The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thanks for being here.



Thursday, August 24, 2023

Safety Nets

“Hey bro, do you have a couple of minutes to talk?”

“Any chance we could grab a coffee this week?”

“I could use some time with you…how about we meet for dinner?”

As the course of my leadership career continues to evolve, change, and morph in new and expanded directions, I’m finding it increasingly important to connect with other men in my world. I’m blessed that my partner is an amazing support, and she’s willing to listen for as long as I need to talk.

However, there is another need for support that is somehow different, and just as important. Sadly, most men are caught in the stereotype that reaching out to other men is a sign of weakness. I was caught in that bizarre trap for decades.

Not anymore.

What are the changes I’ve made? There are several actually. 

- I helped start a weekly men’s bible study in August of 2022 that is going strong.

- I started a small men’s covenant group on the GroupMe app to connect several of my close friends who live all across the country. We check in with each other on Friday mornings.

- I was invited to join a small group of eight businessmen in Tampa. We meet quarterly and discuss ethical business practices, life issues, and whatever else happens to come up.

- Lastly, I’m trying to be more intentional about staying connected to my close friends and connections. The pace of life sometimes gets in the way; however, I’m not accepting that excuse. I keep pushing.

These steps have helped me. They may not be a good fit for you, and that’s okay. Finding what works is the most important thing. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to take care of yourself.

Thanks for being here.



Thursday, August 17, 2023


In my last post I talked about taking NoExcusesHR a bit deeper. Leadership messages should not only be about behaviors that propel us forward, they should also demonstrate how leaders are vulnerable people who struggle too. At least I think those messages should.

The last few years have been quite a journey for me. Outwardly, it’s been business success, travel, great food, an incredible new relationship, and my wonderful growing family around me. I am blessed beyond words with all of these things coming into my life at this stage. 

Sharing what we want others to see is powerful...and incomplete. 

What doesn’t get shared however is my old nemesis. We’ve actually been doing battle for a long time. It challenges my confidence, my self-image, and my big vision for the future. It speaks to what I’m not. 

Sometimes it’s very, very loud.

Why share this with you? I’ve asked myself the same question a hundred times. Is it just ‘normal’ self-doubt creeping in once in a while? 

Shouldn’t I be able to just shake it off? Well, no. The weight of the struggle feels heavy and is not something I can simply decide to toss aside. These feelings don’t work that way.

Will this deeper dive into leadership vulnerability resonate with someone? Maybe in some small way it will make a difference.

We’ll see.

For now, I’m hoping that progress comes as I pry open the lid on the raw emotions that are part of any epic battle. Although I’m not clear what progress looks like at this point, I hope it will be worth the effort.

More soon.

Thanks for being here.


Monday, July 31, 2023

The End of the Beginning

This is a famous quote from one of my favorite periods in history. Winston Churchill said it in November 1942 at a time when the allies finally achieved some success against Germany.

“Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

In some ways, I feel that way about this blog.

Has this first phase of my leadership message run its course?

Is it time for a major pivot?

How deep do I go?

Is the messaging around leadership so overdone that it’s time for a more bold approach?

And, am I willing to be more vulnerable, and ask some of the hardest questions of myself and others?

We’ll see. I’d love your feedback on all of this. And until then…

Thanks for being here.